Time is a precious commodity; some squander it in the pursuit of wealth, others in the fulfillment of dreams borne from the imagination of their younger self. Others still find family and friends their dedicated life’s work, selfless acts of good being carried out for nothing more than a smile of happy and maybe a ‘thanks’.
And with community service being a type of altruism-albeit Court enforced and the option of jail if I refused – I take solice in the looks of the unsuspecting old ‘uns me and my chain gang of similarly peer judged green vest wearing Community Helpers cause when they open their door to our surly mugs first thing in the morning, Case-Worker to the fore explaining that despite all outwards appearance our presence is one of charity and goodwill and debts being repaid.
An overall lack of D.I.Y. ability leaves me counting the nails in the tool box as my fellow Sons Of Shawshank do the actual job of working, and their glares of disapproval and stabbing motions in my direction leave me thinking of a man likewise put deep in the brown stuff himself; a man also facing a future of uncertain malice and dread based on trying to do the best by his own soul. And though doubtful how accurately you can scientifically match half-bricks up I’m more than confident in feeling a kinship in spirit to a man beset with his own troubles and tribulations…
You can tell a lot of a man by asking him one simple question; which is the single best gangster film of all time?
Most will say The Godfather without even thinking of Scarface, but if you follow up with ‘What about Goodfellas?’ they will pause, an expression of passing an uncomfortable stool passing across their face before they say ‘Hmm…’
Before Goodfellas The Godfather reigned. Since Goodfellas no other film has ever upset the status quo or bar table when a pub-quiz descends into brawling and teeth over which of the two icons is the answer to that eternal question of bestness.
More like Putin’s bed-time story than real life the film sees Ray Liotta play Henry Hill as he narrates his way through his journey up the Mob Ladder and subsequent missing of rungs and losing of limbs that came with such untouchable notoriety.
Palatial and indulgent we see nothing is off limits as Liotta details the lives of fellow gangster Joe Pesci and his penchant for putting people in touch with their ancestors via the medium of death, Robert De NiRo the old wise owl piloting the ship through troubled times and cracking crimes, and old cliches of bribery and lust, mistrust and maneuvering between the thin line of respectable businessman and disreputable blood letter.
Scarface shows the corruption of a man at the hands of the power he attains, whereas Goodfellas shows a man growing afraid of the power he and those around him hold; aware of the duplicity and dark shadows lurking behind every kindly word of offer to help being favors to be called in whenever the indebted decided them due, and subsequently of having to choose whether spilling his guts for freedom is smarter than getting them spilled in prison.
Being set in the late sixties/early seventies for the majority of the screen time has kept it from aging too harshly, and makes a good showing on the DVD come Saturday night when the pubs have shut and the kebab is half cold and this new home cinema system has been aching for a proper test of guns being shot into faces and such and the neighbors have been getting on my nerves for quite a while now…
- Five Films To See Before You Die Pt3 (insaneeye.wordpress.com)
- Five Films To See Before You Die Pt2 (insaneeye.wordpress.com)